August 2, 2019

"... Playboy was quietly relaunched this year — this time as a thick-stock, matte-paper, ad-free quarterly. It is edited by a millennial triumvirate..."

"... the openly gay Mr. Singh, 31; Erica Loewy, 26, the creative director; and Anna Wilson, 29, who oversees photography and multimedia.... The summer issue, out now, features an interview with Tarana Burke, the activist who founded the MeToo movement, conducted by Dream Hampton, whose documentary about R. Kelly led to multiple charges against the singer. There is a queer cartoon and a feature on gender-neutral sex toys. The fall issue will feature a photo feature by the artist Marilyn Minter celebrating female pubic hair. 'We have red hair, blond hair, black hair — it’s basically every color of the rainbow,' said Liz Suman, 35, the magazine’s arts editor. She added that elsewhere in the publication, 'I’ve been sneaking in some penises, too.'....  In the office, members of the staff use terms like 'intersectionality,' 'sex positivity,' 'privileging' and 'lived experience' to describe their editorial vision — and tout their feminist credentials. Two editors are former employees of Ms.... 'We talk a lot about what’s the Playboy gaze and how we need to diversify that,' said Rachel Webber, 37, the chief marketing officer.... 'It’s a little like being in a gender studies class,' she added."

From "Can the Millennials Save Playboy?/The Hefners are gone, and so is the magazine’s short-lived ban on nudity — as well as virtually anyone on the staff over 35" (NYT).

Playboy is just a brand name. You can completely change a product under a name. Will it work? Was there enough value in the old version of the product that it's not good business to repurpose the name? Look at this big NYT article they got out of it!

Remember Cosmopolitan magazine?



It had been around since 1886 when Helen Gurley Brown took over in 1965. Originally, it was introduced as a "first-class family magazine" with articles on fashion, interior decoration, childcare, and cooking. In 1905, William Randolph Hearst took over and changed it into a place with articles like "The Growth of Caste in America" and writers including George Bernard Shaw and Upton Sinclair, and Ida Tarbell. By the 1950s, the circulation was way down and it was considered very dull.
Helen Gurley Brown took over and completely changed it into an active promotion of sex for the single woman.
In Brown's early years as editor, the magazine received heavy criticism. In 1968 at the feminist Miss America protest, protestors symbolically threw a number of feminine products into a "Freedom Trash Can." These included copies of Cosmopolitan and Playboy magazines. Cosmopolitan also ran a near-nude centerfold of actor Burt Reynolds in April 1972, causing great controversy and attracting much attention....

Victoria Hearst, a granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst..., has lent her support to a campaign which seeks to classify Cosmopolitan as harmful under the guidelines of "Material Harmful to Minors" laws. Hearst, the founder of an evangelical Colorado church called Praise Him Ministries, states that "the magazine promotes a lifestyle that can be dangerous to women's emotional and physical well being. It should never be sold to anyone under 18."... 
ADDED: One nice thing about the new Playboy website is access to old Playboy interviews. I once subscribed to Playboy, the website, just because I wanted to read the Allen Ginsberg interview (from 1969). But here it is now, free: "A poet, a mystic, a homosexual, a psychedelic proselyte, a revolutionary, a bearded prophet of doom for what he considers society's 'sick' values, he is among the most famous and certainly the most controversial of living poets." There was plenty of detail about homosexuality in that interview (which I read when I was 18, in my family home, where Playboy was always openly available):
Would you explain what you mean when you say there's a natural element of homosexuality in every man?

There's homosexuality in every Playboy reader. To say that in a Playboy Interview is interesting because obviously every Playboy reader expects me to say that; so I'll say it and liberate him from his fear that somebody will say it sooner or later.
So I hereby announce: Everybody is acknowledged not as a homosexual or heterosexual but as a complete person with all the aspects of that completeness—all the dreams, hard-ons, wet night-mares, anxieties, buddies, all secret masturbations and all refusals to masturbate. Any more rigid masculine ideal would be a perversion of human nature—heartbreaking because unsatisfiable.

Have you been able to fully accept your own homosexuality?

Homosexuality has been like a koan—a Zen riddle—for me. Whole areas with my mother were screwed up and conditioned me in this way sexually. The riddle was: How do I deal with my homosexuality? Do I accept it or reject it or freak out, or do I go into it and find out what it is? Another problem: Is it something public? Anything that common is public; anything that happens to us is as good or bad as anything else as a subject for poetry. It's actual. So I can write naturally about my own homosexuality. The poems get misinterpreted as promotion of homosexuality. Actually, it's more like promotion of frankness, about any subject. If you're a foot fetishist, you write about feet; or if you're a stock-market freak, you can write about the rising sales-curve erections in the Standard Oil chart. When a few people get frank about homosexuality in public, it breaks the ice; then anybody can be frank about anything. That's socially useful.

Is that what you meant when you told Life that by announcing in public that you're a "homosexual, take drugs and hear Blake's voice, then people who are heterosexual, don't take drugs and hear Shakespeare's voice may feel freer to do what they want and be what they are"?

Yes, then anybody who wants to can get up and say, like, "I fuck girls!" or "I'm not scared to wear a Brooks Brothers suit" or "I wear my hat indoors or out as I please," Which Whitman said. But I don't stand up in public and suddenly announce, "I'm a bearded-beatnik-bohemian-faggot-dope-fiend" to boat about it. When somebody asks me: "Why don't you shave?" or "Are you willing to admit you smoke marijuana?" and "You look as if you have Communistic tendencies" or "You need a good bath!"—well, then, I say: "My beard just grows, I didn't plant it, I don't get up every morning and try to murder my hair and obliterate my human image. It's just Adam's hair. Yes, I like to make it with boys; I'm not sure whether it's good or bad; it feels all right so I describe it. And I admit I smoke dope. But I think police-state bureaucrats mounted their secret conspiracy to suppress marijuana in order to create police-state conditions. And I am a Communist of the heart, except that I've been bricked off the set by police in Communist Prague and Communist Havana—and 'Communist' Chicago. I was kicked out of Havana and Prague for talking about homosexuality."

It doesn't sound as if you buy the psychoanalytic theory that homosexuality is a neurosis that cripples or limits a man's emotional growth.

Homosexuality is a condition, and like all average things, it has advantages and disadvantages. Obvious disadvantages are that it keeps you from reproducing your own image, if that's biologically important anymore; and it shuts me off from full relations with women. Though unless a chick is really trying to make it with me, I'm affectionate and physical and sexy enough toward women to give out some normal social, happy cheer when I'm with them. The advantages are that homosexuality provides me with sufficient affection and gasoline to communicate on a tender level with my fellow citizens, especially the Prussian butch-crewcut freaky military types—the old Socratic situation. Also, because it alienated or set me apart from the beginning, homosexuality served as a catalyst for self-examination, for a detailed realization of my environment and the reasons why everybody else is different and why I am different. In a tank-military hyper-sadistic and the unconscious and the full man, my homosexual specialization made me aware of the rigid armoring, defensiveness, overcompensation and high camp put on by police-state police.

It's like the old shamans who are often androgynous or homosexual: Since they're outside normal routine, they're specialized social critics and have sensitivities that others don't have; they're men who see aspects of male history from a woman's point of view. That spectrum of experience is a useful information bank of supplementary intelligence that can be of real value in community self-understanding and awareness. Anyone in that position has enough troubles fulfilling such heavy duties to the society without being hit on the head for being a fairy; he should be kissed, instead. In fact, innumerable young men ought to offer their bodies to him in order to recompense him for the suffering solitariness of his freaky prophecy-hood. And they should come up offering their bodies before I get too old to enjoy it.

You mentioned that not having children is one of the disadvantages of being homosexual, and that you envision "family life" ahead during LSD trips. Do you still want to be a father?

I did a while back, but I ran into a funny, long-haired Indian Vishnuite to whom I talked a lot about my problems. He said, oddly, "Give up desire for children." Which made me mad. Who was he to tell me to cut myself from that desire? Later, I realized what he meant: Give up attachment, compulsion to have children on account of you're a Jewish boy from New Jersey; if you want children or if they come, fine, but don't have children because you're supposed to. Anyway, there are already too many people and lost unattached children in the world today. So I'm an old cranky bachelor wanting to stay with my poetry and run around doing what ever thing I'm doing, and I think I might be satisfied to leave it at that. Still, it might be good to have this self-importance broken up by "a Zen master in the house all the time," which is how Gary Snyder, the poet, describes his first child.
Playboy at its best! And not entirely different from what Playboy has become now.

87 comments:

donald said...

That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
You know How I know this? It’s a quarterly webzine.
When the current funding runs out that’s it.

Shouting Thomas said...

So Islam will conquer America, and apparently we deserve it.

tds said...

Polish edition of Playboy started in 1992, with a film critic as the editor. Who, guess what, came out as gay in 2007. I found it hilarious.
As RedLetterMedia guys say:

You may not have noticed it, but your brain did.

Right Man said...

Playboy is dead. Long live Playzim.

gilbar said...

There is a queer cartoon and a feature on gender-neutral sex toys.
'I’ve been sneaking in some penises, too.'...


As donald points out it's got No Advertising; because No One WANTS to advertise in it
Seriously! it's going to try to appeal to Gay Men, that like seeing naked women? With pubic hair?

Meade said...

Sex sells everything
Sex kills

said Joni

Shouting Thomas said...

The "openly gay" bit is amusing.

As if it's daring.

Instead of the standard PR bit for media that eat that shit up.

gilbar said...


Though, it WILL look good on Professor Althouse's coffee table.
I predict that the 'thick stock matte paper' mag gets subscriptions in the 100's (not 100s of thousands)

David Begley said...

It will fail.

rhhardin said...

It seeme to be insight-free to me. All thicket, no game.

rehajm said...

It’s a little like being in a gender studies class

With what we have now I can't imagine it could have relaunched as anything else.

rhhardin said...

Female pubic hair is emergency underwear.

rehajm said...

Closeted gay would be more daring.

tim in vermont said...

I was a huge fan of the old hid under your mattress, back of the barbershop Playboy back in the day. I kind of doubt I would ever read the new one, but that interview is awesome.

tim in vermont said...

Oh yeah, and pubic hair on a woman is awesome. Who wants to be reminded of changing a diaper?

Meade said...

“It seeme to be insight-free to me. “

Nice gender inflection.

tim in vermont said...

They missed a trick by not getting Gillette to advertise there.

Jeff Brokaw said...

Woke Playboy sounds super-duper interesting.

NOT.

Jeff Brokaw said...

Millennials don’t understand any generation but their own. We keep seeing example after example of this.

True of every generation to some degree, yes, but somehow they ended up like some alien invasion plopped down here with zero awareness of anything that came before.

It’s predictable, boring, and exhausting.

rehajm said...

'I’ve been sneaking in some penises, too.'...

tee hee!

Tank said...

Just another item under "the left ruins everything it touches."

Leland said...

The topics around our office is how to build things, not how to identify and segregate things. I doubt I'd find their product interesting.

gilbar said...

AAT said... They missed a trick by not getting Gillette to advertise there.

Probably a sponsor though

Jeff Brokaw said...

I should clarify: obviously I’m not referring to every individual Millennial but to the group and it’s predominant attitudes that get shoved in our faces in the media. My oldest son is almost 31 and squarely in that age group but definitely does not share those attitudes and neither does his wife or most of their friend group.

Of course we already know the media embraces those attitudes and to some degree at least is using Millennials to push an agenda.

Anyway, somewhat off topic, I know.

daskol said...

Strident and humorless gender grievance mongers may enjoy a pubic hair pictorial if sufficiently colorful, but they hate and fear frank expression of the kind Ginsburg advocates.
Their maiden issue interview was with the #METOO founder.

I Callahan said...

If it’s any consolation, Jeff, my first reaction upon reading the first paragraph of the post was:

Millennials...

iowan2 said...

True of every generation to some degree, yes, but somehow they ended up like some alien invasion plopped down here with zero awareness of anything that came before.

It’s predictable, boring, and exhausting.


So true

This is something my mother and I talked about. As I got past young adulthood, matured, It was plain to see that every generation going through the discovery of sex, thinks they have invented some new, shocking, sexual state of being. Sexually doing things their parents cant conceive of.
Yes, no concept of history.

Ann Althouse said...

'I’ve been sneaking in some penises, too."

That sounds rape-y. I call insufficiently woke.

Howard said...

Blogger AAT said... Oh yeah, and pubic hair on a woman is awesome. Who wants to be reminded of changing a diaper?

Or razor burns on the Mons.

MayBee said...

Who is the quoted interview with? Is that the Ginsberg interview?

MayBee said...

I like that it was "quietly" relaunched. As in, nobody noticed and nobody is talking about it.

Howard said...

Insufficiently woke is a high standard

Craig Howard said...

Whole areas with my mother were screwed up and conditioned me in this way sexually.

This was the predominant opinion in the sixties -- homosexuality is Mom's fault [with maybe some input [or lack thereof]] from Dad. Interesting that, deep thinker that Ginsberg was, he accepted that.

When I was trying to figure myself out at about the same time, I operated under that template and, in my case, it made some sense. But, eventually, I began to doubt it and, though it's true we have no scientific proof yet, I have to think there's an important genetic component to it.

Knowing that would eliminate the need for quite so much soul-searching.

I realize the majority of the readership is more interested in what a mess has been made of "Playboy", but Ginsberg's a rather important figure. Very interesting interview.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Launch.

She should launch some penises.

bonkti said...

I wasn't sure I wanted to read the interview, fearing a polemic. I'm glad I did.

Hope the new photo editors aren't ageist or fat-phobic.

daskol said...

What is the "Playboy Gaze?" To look lecherously upon artistically composed images of conventionally attractive women. Penises don't work in this aesthetic. They're more of a Hustler or Penthouse thing, where the photos were still highly composed but far more anatomically detailed. No soft focus there, and no pubic hair or carefully selected angles to only hint at the naughty bits.

daskol said...

Craig Howard sounds like he wants to make it with Ginsburg.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Will the Millennials Save Playboy?

I'm not quite ready to put my money on a group of people who just discovered that public hair comes in multiple colors.

~ Gordon Pasha said...

Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t sell shotguns anymore.

SDaly said...

On the pubic hair comment, are the various different colors of pubic hair dyed, or do they mainly focus on Caucasian women? Because if natural, like 95% of the women in the world have black or dark brown pubic hair.

doctrev said...

I'm just surprised that Playboy wasn't buried with Hefner. He rode the thing to its peak, and survived even when Playboy began its decline. Now that it's become converged under a gay dude and two chicks, it's just one more victim of SJWism. Who could take it seriously anymore?

chuck said...

Old issues of Playboy?


What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Michael K said...

There is so little female pubic hair around these days that crab lice are endangered.

holdfast said...

That is certainly not the same Playboy that was used as jerk-off inspiration in the port-a-shitters on various miserable Army training areas during field exercises over the years.

mccullough said...

So Playboy is now a middle-school ‘zine.

holdfast said...

The PX on every Army base used to have racks of Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler mags. But they got rid of those in around the turn of the millennium. I guess they didn’t read poetry.

But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

Sebastian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sebastian said...

Bad thing about new Playboy: SJWs take over.

Good thing about new Playboy: when SJWs take over, stuff fails.

bleh said...

Why can’t they just let it go? I don’t see how the name Playboy has any value unless the magazine is mostly pictures of hot young nude women and lame sex jokes. And of course the occasional interesting interview or piece of investigative journalism.

Playboy always kinda leaned left politically, and that was fine for a long time because sexual liberation was an important part of the post-WW2 American left. The current left is moving in a different direction, sadly. It’s more censorious and preachy, more anti-male, anti-heterosexual. There’s less freedom on the left to discuss ideas and much less tolerance of straight male sexuality, which is derided as toxic and gross and anti-feminist.

What Playboy used to be is now dead and gone. Porn is free.

Caligula said...

Playboy might find a niche for itself as a retro magazine exploring Peak Sexual Liberation and why it has receded from its peak.

That it has done so seems undeniable. For example, #MeToo has all but criminalized huge swaths of sexually aggressive male behaviors (at least when attempted by less-than-perfect men), behaviors that would have not only been accepted but valorized in Playboy, in Playboy's heydey.

And then there's a long-overdue look at some of the excesses of the not-so-distant past:

https://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/the-sexual-revolution-and-children-how-the-left-took-things-too-far-a-702679.html

So, sure, "Playboy" is just a brand name and can be repurposed and reimagined. Yet the original had its origins in the 1950s, and somehow the stench of 'latter-day 1950s rebels' continues to cling to that old brand name.

Fernandinande said...

We have red hair, blond hair, black hair

How about polarized ultraviolet hair for the butterflies in your reading audience?

Francisco D said...

Two things that will keep Playboy from being successful:

1. Active sex life with the Mrs. or significant other;

2. Free internet porn.

TJM said...

I bet even Hugh Hefner wouldn't buy it today!

rcocean said...

I was hoping they had all the interviews. The Brando interview was published as a book. In his case, the interviewer spend days talking to him and recording him, and then wrote up "The interview". Sometimes Brando's answers to to other questions were "transferred" to questions that were never asked. Its why Brando - in the printed interview - sounds so concise and intelligent.

rcocean said...

Playboy only had 2 good thing. Pictures and the occasional good interview. When I was younger I never understood all the Left-wing pro-feminist crap in a men's magazine. Then realized that 90% of men didn't care about the articles. Plus, having left-wing crap protected Hefner from the Liberals.

Darrell said...
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William said...

Cosmo changed gears and directions but didn't become actively antithetical to its original self. As presented here, the new Playboy seems more antagonistic to than derivative of the old Playboy. This new mag sounds more on the Ms than Playboy vision of things. The male gaze was Playboy's mission statement....This isn't like the Paris Review presenting a special car and roads issue. This is like Paris Review being taken over by Photoplay and examining the significance of Betty Grable......Some thoughtful words by Allen Ginsburg. I don't know that much about his private life, but the guess here is that he had a few Metoo moments. He's probably in a class with JFK or MLK though. Nobody is going to come forward and talk about a bad time with Allen.

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

Two things that will keep Woke Playboy from being successful:

1. SJWs don't buy anything with any regularity. That's why the comics industry is going out of business after they went woke.

2. Titus won't be the rear cover.

Darrell said...

A poet, a mystic, a homosexual, a psychedelic proselyte, a revolutionary, a bearded prophet of doom walk into a bar.

Get the fuck out of here, Ginsberg!
And pay your bar tab on the way out.

MacMacConnell said...

So these woke fucks are going to do to Playboy what they did to Esquire.

SGT Ted said...

Woke Playboy will quietly die in it's crib.

Sam L. said...

I gave up PLAYBOY in '78. This new version is not for me.

whitney said...

"There's homosexuality in every Playboy reader. To say that in a Playboy Interview is interesting because obviously every Playboy reader expects me to say that; so I'll say it and liberate him from his fear that somebody will say it sooner or later"

that's BS. It's the same deviant line they've been feeding girls since I was in high school in the 80s, that girls go both ways. That's not true and I've cured many girls who were confused by asking them one question. What do you fantasize about. That answers it for them, the scales just dropped from their eyes and they know what they are despite the constant brainwashing.

PM said...

Sounds more like Play/Man/Boy magazine. Anyway, aren't we worried about wasting trees?

Laslo Spatula said...

"...thick-stock, matte-paper..."

Great.

A magazine purportedly about naked chicks, and the fetish now is the paper it's printed on.

I am Laslo.

JAORE said...

I would think that any value in the name Playboy would not work to the advantage of this effort. It does, I suppose, get them a brief flash of interest. I hope they got the name for very little.

Tinderbox said...

Just another aspect of legacy American culture taken over by queers and feminists. What else is new?

Yancey Ward said...

This might not make to the end of the year. Who funded this just got taken by the people running it.

The nudie magazines/e-zines were killed by Pornhub, Xvideo, and XHamster- plus multitudes of other hard-core porn sites; and they were already on life-support before that from the early 1980s due to VHS and the hardcore video rental business. The only people who had subscriptions to Playboy to read the interviews were either homosexuals and/or women, and fucking few of those.

tim in vermont said...
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tim in vermont said...
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Static Ping said...

When you revive a magazine name like Playboy, the main reason to do so is to take advantage of the brand. That brand means something and comes with an audience that you can exploit for sales. In theory, you can push the brand in a direction other than its existing reputation, but that brings into question why you would use the brand in the first place as the pre-existing audience will not be interested. I suppose there is some value from name recognition in that someone might pick up Playboy when they would ignore, say, Fred's or Woke Boobs, but unless they have something to hold that audience it won't do much good after an issue or two. So, yeah, if you execute a major brand change this can work out, but it is risky business.

So who will fill in the vacuum caused by the new Playboy? I nominate American Homes and Gardens. The Center Gnome for July has quite the bush!

Hey Skipper said...

The new Playboy will be just like Playgirl.

Not enough gay men to keep it in business.

tcrosse said...

Back in the day every issue had the What Kind of Man Reads Playboy page, which never showed the kind of guys I knew who read Playboy. Or who looked at the pictures and turned the pages. I wonder if the new incarnation of Playboy will have that page, and whether their Playboy Man will be any more accurate than the old one.

tcrosse said...

And look out for those sneaky penises.

Seeing Red said...

Why did they keep the name in today’s times?

Isn’t that a bad brand to be thought of as a Playboy?

madAsHell said...

gender-neutral sex toys

These people can suck the fun out of everything.

Clyde said...

New Coke. Because that worked so well last time.

Nichevo said...

Junior Anti-Sex League to the white courtesy phone. Junior Anti-Sex League to the white courtesy phone.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Would you explain what you mean when you say there's a natural element of homosexuality in every man?

For every man, woman, child, and baby. Love yourself. However, it's not a gendered mental attribute.

rcocean said...

I always love when people make cryptic comments that no one else can understand. I just note: Ignore XYZ, he's just mumbling to himself.

Zach said...

I'll say the same thing I said when they tried to ban nudity.

The Playboy brand is sophistication, not porn. The brand image is the sort of guy who can get a woman into bed by talking about modern art.
People might not have been buying the magazine for the interviews, but the interviews were essential to the brand.

Bearing that in mind, banning nudity was never going to work. PG-13 is the opposite of sophisticated.

Intersectionality is not going to work, either. It's a game of status anxiety -- people who are anxious to be told what they're doing wrong, and eager to tell others what they're doing wrong. Again, the opposite of sophisticated.

Zach said...

She added that elsewhere in the publication, 'I’ve been sneaking in some penises, too.'.... In the office, members of the staff use terms like 'intersectionality,' 'sex positivity,' 'privileging' and 'lived experience' to describe their editorial vision — and tout their feminist credentials. Two editors are former employees of Ms.... 'We talk a lot about what’s the Playboy gaze and how we need to diversify that,' said Rachel Webber, 37, the chief marketing officer.... 'It’s a little like being in a gender studies class,' she added."

Look at all of these anxiety terms! They're trying to sell porn with guilt, in a magazine that was famous for selling porn with sophistication.

Why on Earth would you put penises in a magazine aimed at straight men? Do you think they're suddenly going to be converted?

The editor is putting in penises because she feels guilty. She doesn't approve of her own magazine.

None of this is going to work.

Zach said...

To be clear: I don't think the average Playboy reader was a sophisticate. I'm just pointing out that that was the brand.

For the relaunch: is it even possible to sell porn at a premium today?

They really might be better off trying to sell the interviews.

tim in vermont said...

What would really be subversive would be if the penises were largely of average size. Don’t look for it though, not with gay men involved.